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Words that Looks Like What They Refer to

Dan from Elmira, New York, wonders if there’s such a thing as “structural” onomatopoeia, where the visual appearance or architecture of a written word suggests the meaning of the word. For example, he says, the word level is a...

Neonatal Unit Jargon

Katie in East Thetford, Vermont, shares medical slang and jargon from her work in the neonatal intensive care room at a hospital, including doorbell for “an alarm”; giraffe, “a special bed with controls for heat and...

Bed Pallet

Melanie in San Antonio, Texas, wonders about the use of the word pallet to mean improvised bedding on the floor. It goes back to a French term for it, paillet, which comes from a word meaning straw. The word also appears in some translations of the...

Kick Out of Bed for Eating Crackers

David from Trophy Club, Texas, wonders about the phrase “I wouldn’t kick them out of bed for eating crackers.” This jocular expression has been around since the early 1940s, and indicates that someone is so lovable they could do...

Rest in the Arms of Morpheus

A San Diego woman says her mother always tucked her into bed with the comforting wish, “Sweet dreams, and rest in the arms of Morpheus.” This allusion to mythology evokes a time when people were more familiar with Greek myth, and the...